After The Laughter
By Rick Joyner
Today the church is experiencing a very significant renewal. Churches by the thousands are now experiencing a special touch from God. It is not limited to a single country, denomination, or movement. At the time of this writing it is still growing and spreading at an extraordinary rate.
This movement has so far been characterized mostly by its unique manifestations, such as “holy laughter.” There are other manifestations associated with this movement, such as being “slain in the spirit ‘ ” “quaking” or “jerking,” but also others which are disconcerting even to the leaders of the movement. These have been referred to as animal sounds such as “roaring like a lion,” and animal actions such as the “duck walk,” the “chicken peck,” and what appears to be people “soaring like eagles” and “galloping like horses.” Is all of this apparent foolishness from the Holy Spirit? Certainly not! However, some of it is, and it is important.
When some of these same manifestations first started breaking out in our meetings, I felt the same kind of atmosphere that is created when I play with my kids by chasing and tickling them. The longer I play with them the wilder they become. Some of their “manifestations” seemed just like those going on in the meetings. The manifestations were not me, but they were the result of what I was doing to them. Many of the manifestations going on in the meetings are not the Lord, but they are the result of people being touched by Him. They may get a little out of control at times, just as my kids do, but this is much better than the human control which much of the church is still under.
I have been more concerned by some of the theology and attempts to put prophetic significance on these manifestations than I have the manifestations themselves. The last thing I want my kids doing after one of our play sessions is to leave it trying to figure out what this or that kind of tickling meant. The deepest meaning to anything I did was that I just wanted to have fun with them, and I wanted them to enjoy it as much as I did. This is exactly what the Father is doing with His kids in many of these meetings. There is no deep meaning to most of it. To attribute such interpretations is missing the main point. The church is generally sick of empty theology, and simply, desperately desires a touch from God.
In general, the church needs to “lighten up” and learn to just enjoy the Lord sometimes. As Deuteronomy 28:47-48 states, “Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and a glad heart, for the abundance of all things; therefore you shall serve your enemies:’When we lose the joy of the Lord we will go into bondage. There is a time for deeper teachings, for battles, and for weeping, but right now the church is in greater need of this refreshing move that is now sweeping the church. It may have no deeper meaning than that God both loves and enjoys His kids. We must become like children again if we are going to enter His kingdom, and most of us long ago forgot what that means. Something does not have to be deep to be very important.
Chaos versus Order
We must also acknowledge that there are manifestations that are not the result of the Holy Spirit moving on people. God is not the author of confusion, but sometimes man’s definition of confusion is confused. When we build something, we like straight lines and everything neatly in place. Have you ever noticed the way the Lord builds a forest? There are no straight lines in a forest. The trees are not neatly in rows, and many are scattered about on the ground in apparent chaos. However, there is an order and harmony in the life cycles of a forest that still defy human comprehension. To be perceived, these cycles must be viewed over a long period of time.
Viewed from our limited perspective, the church also appears to be in chaos. However, from the perspective of the entire church age there is a most extraordinary harmony and purpose that has been unfolding.
When men build a church it will be neat and every line will tend to be straight. When God builds a church it will appear to the natural mind to be chaos. To the one who sees from the perspective of eternity, it will appear in more harmony than any human mind could have conceived. God is a God of order, but to see His order we must be delivered from our natural mind and human perspective.
Even so, it must be acknowledged that there are fleshly manifestations in the present move of God, mostly through weak or insecure people. Other manifestations are demonic. However, it is a mistake to be overly concerned by either of these, as they will always attach themselves to a move of God. The Lord Himself said that every time He sows wheat in a field that the enemy will come along and sow tares “in the same field” (see Matthew 13:24-30). By the standards set by the Lord’s own meetings, manifestations in this move of God are still pretty mild.
One of the greatest mistakes that can be made is to try to root out the tares prematurely. The Lord’s wisdom was to “let them grow up together” with the wheat, knowing that at the harvest they will be separated. We must understand that it is always part of God’s curriculum for His children to grow up with tares in their midst. He even chose Judas for His own inner circle. It may be neater, or more enjoyable if we could get rid of the tares, but those things are obviously not the Lord’s highest purpose for any movement.
As a student of church history, especially revivals and reform movements, it does seem that movements that have ultimately gone on to produce the greatest evangelists and reforms of society have had the wildest beginnings. Also, when we look back at history many events seem to have taken place all at once, though they usually unfolded over many years. In each of the Great Awakenings that swept America and Europe, the many salvations, social impact, and heart of the message actually took decades to unfold.
Jonathan Edwards is today regarded as one of the greatest theologians of all time. He is also believed to be one of the greatest intellects ever produced by America. The fruit of the Great Awakening that was sparked by his preaching can still be seen in the basic fabric of both American society and government. It is noteworthy that Edwards himself never seemed to be touched by the wild manifestations that went on in his meetings, but many of those who were closest to him were. His wife was reportedly “drunk in the Spirit” for weeks, even to the point of falling face first in her food at times.
Though Peter was certainly baptized in the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, he was apparently not touched by the manifestations that made the others appear to be drunk. When he stood up to explain the phenomena to the men of Jerusalem he said, “These men are not drunk” (Acts 2:15). Had he been personally affected he would have said “we” instead of “these men.”
The spiritual seeds sown by the Cane Ridge and Red River revivals were responsible for producing the social forces that made slavery in America intolerable. In both of these movements multiplied thousands of men, women and children committed their lives to the Lord. Charles Finney was just one of the mighty spiritual firebrands sparked in these revivals. The fruit of the Awakening that resulted from their ministry was great, but we, today, still have a long way to go to get as wild as the meetings from which they grew.
During the Cane Ridge and Red River revivals people coming would often be “slain in the Spirit” in their covered wagons while still miles from the camp grounds. Their horses would continue, finding their own way to the meetings, where dozens of men were assigned the task of unloading the people from the wagons and laying them in long rows until they awoke. Saplings were cut down for people to lean on while they shook so violently that the coins would fly from their pockets. Rugged pioneers would roar and bark while clinging to great trees, supposedly originating the term, “barking up a tree.” Similar manifestations can be found as far back as history records renewal and revival meetings. Likewise, they all had their critics who used the same arguments against them that the present critics of this movement are using. It seems that Solomon was right-there really is nothing new under the sun.
Are these manifestations biblical? Yes. However, I do not think that the apologists for this movement will ever prove to the critics that they are. It can be a major mistake just to try to appease them. Many of the biblical prophecies that the gospel writers used to verify that Jesus was the Messiah were quite ambiguous, or obscure, and many were taken out of context. Without illumination from the Holy Spirit many of those prophecies would never be interpreted as Messianic. The opponents of the early Christians dismissed them as misinterpretations, just as the critics of the present movement do when presented with Scriptures that verify these manifestations.
It is right to search the Scriptures for confirmation of what is happening, just as the gospel writers did, but we should do it for the sake of believers, not the for unbelievers. Faith is a prerequisite for receiving from God. It takes faith, not doubt, to interpret the Scriptures, or anything else, properly. There will be some “Sauls” who will be turned into “Pauls” among the opposers, but argument will never convert them. Like Saul of Tarsus they must be struck blind in the natural before they will be able to see in the Spirit.
The trap that comes when we try to satisfy the critics is that it usually takes our attention off of the Holy Spirit and where He is leading us. Soon we would be spending 90% of our time trying to satisfy the I% of the critics who would be persuaded. We must let the Lord convert the critics and keep our attention on following Him. No valid move of God is free of fault-finders, believers who really think that they are doing God a favor, just as Saul of Tarsus did before his conversion.
This is not to imply that everyone who questions a movement is sent by the enemy, or is even wrong. Many have the best of motives, but can fail to recognize what the Lord is doing for many different reasons. Even so, we must understand that the Lord does not bring correction to His church through critics, regardless of whether they call themselves watchmen, journalists, or even concerned pastors. It can be a trap to listen to anyone who does not bring correction in the biblically prescribed manner, and many of those who consider themselves the most devoted defenders of scriptural integrity think little of violating the
Scriptures by the way they attack others. Those who sincerely love the truth will comply with the biblical directives for bringing correction (see Matthew 18 and Galatians 6:1).
The Bereans were noble-minded because they searched the Scriptures to prove what was being taught by the apostles. They wanted to believe, not doubt. We are exhorted to, “examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good” (I Thessalonians 5:21), not that which is bad. Those who examine things looking for what is wrong, wanting to doubt, will have a distorted perspective that will cause those who follow them to stumble.
The Modern Pharisees
All lovers of the Bible owe a great debt to the sect of the Pharisees. They were primarily responsible for protecting the integrity of the written Word through the centuries as it was passed down from generation to generation. However, Satan is very skillful at turning our greatest strength into a weakness that he can exploit, and he did this very well with the Pharisees. He used the conservative nature that made them so protective of the Scriptures to make them into reactionaries. They began to worship the Book of the Lord more than the Lord of the Book.
When the serpent asked Eve if she could not eat from any tree in the Garden, she responded, “from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die”‘ (Genesis 3:3). The Lord had not said anything about “touching” the fruit. Those who are overly zealous for commandments are insecure and just as prone to fall as those who are overly casual about them. There is a difference
between zeal that is based on love, and zealotry that is founded upon an insecure religious spirit that is seeking to gain approval through zeal. The latter is a deadly enemy of every move of God.
The religious spirit that manifested itself in the Pharisees in the Lord’s day caused those who esteemed the written Word more than anyone else to persecute the One who is the personification of that Word. Those who had the greatest hope in the coming of the Messiah were those who opposed Him the most when He did not come in the form that fit into their own plans. That spirit has never left the earth, but continues to arise and oppose the Lord every time He seeks to move on the earth. To the consternation of many, this spirit usually comes in those who are zealous for the written Word, but their commitment is to the letter which kills, not the Spirit that gives life.
How should we respond to the intimidations of the modem Pharisees? Love them, pray for them, but beware of their leaven. Many of those who are delivered from this spirit, like Saul of Tarsus, can become the greatest champions of truth and the liberty of the Spirit. We should be quick to honor them for the good that they do, while boldly confronting them about their own hypocrisy.
A Movement must Keep Moving
While praying with a group of pastors in Charlotte, who were seeking the Lord about how to pastor the present movement in our city, I saw in a vision one of the leaders of the movement. He was on a horse charging forward. As he did so, a couple of bees tried to sting him. He stopped, drew his sword, and began swatting the bees with it. This was a big mistake. When he stopped he was swarmed by bees, which he would have left far behind if he had kept charging forward. The worst thing that can happen to any movement is for it to stop moving.
Another killer of movements is the pride that assumes that our movement is the greatest thing that God is doing, and that everyone who is not joining it is missing God. We have not yet discovered how to keep this mentality out of a movement, and it has probably been the main factor that has brought the end to most of the great movements in history. Pride is becoming prevalent in this movement, and to the degree that it continues to spread, it will probably dictate how long this movement lasts.
Even the biggest thing that God is doing in the earth is a small part of the whole thing that He is doing. The Scriptures attest that, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble6” (James 4:6 NKJV). It is better to have all of the demons in hell trying to stop us than to have God’s opposition, and when we start to judge ourselves as superior, or others as inferior, because they are not a part of our movement, we have brought the worst form of trouble upon ourselves.
A Deadly Presumption
The ark of the covenant represented God’s manifest presence to ancient Israel. When David became king it was his desire to bring the ark to Jerusalem, the seat of his government. This is the greatest wisdom that any leader can have, to provide a dwelling place for the Lord. However, David did not use wisdom in his attempt to bring in the ark with wisdom. Instead of seeking the Lord for the prescribed manner for moving the ark, he just made a new ox cart. When the cart tottered, Uzzah reached
out to steady the ark. This seems like a noble thing to do, but he was struck dead for his presumption of thinking that he, in his own strength, could steady the glory of God. It is noteworthy that the ox often represents natural strength in Scripture, and Uzzah means “strength.” After this incident, David regrouped and sought God to understand His prescribed manner for transporting the ark.
Our God is a holy, awesome God. He unfolds the heavens as a tent curtain. He loves us and wants to be close to us, just as He did David, but He will be treated as holy. When men become overly casual with His manifest presence, the results can be catastrophic. It seems that every new spiritual movement thinks that their new ox cart will be what brings in the glory of the Lord. They begin to totter, and disaster strikes.
This seems especially dangerous in this movement with all of the laughter and funny manifestations. It is easy to start thinking that He is using us because of some special gift or wisdom that we have. We should believe that if what is happening now is the prelude to a true revival, it is not coming because we are so worthy, but because we need it so badly. Revivals have historically preceded judgment. He would rather show mercy than judgment, and the only way that we will avoid judgment is to keep the revival going until the repentance and transformation that is needed to avoid judgment has been accomplished. Presumption caused the first fall from grace and most of the falls since.
We must Keep Seeking
If we measure the present movements by the standards of the great movements in history, we are swimming in very shallow waters. Even so, all of them started this way, and it is, therefore, a mistake to judge now what the ultimate impact of this movement will be. Even though there have not yet been many salvations, and no discernable social impact, in many of the great moves of God in history these have taken years to unfold. The present movements may now look like acorns compared to the great oaks of history, but every great oak started out as just such an acorn. By looking at a single seed it is not possible to know how many generations of great oak trees may ultimately come from it.
Many who miss the great moves of God do so because they get discouraged not seeing the fruit they desire mature fast enough. They fail to recognize the seeds that are to grow up into that fruit. Many of the popular teachings on the end times pressure us into expecting everything to happen very fast. I submit that God’s definition of “fast” is very different from ours. He said that He was coming “quickly,” and it has now been almost two thousand years. He dwells in eternity, and if we want to see from His perspective we must learn patience.
Myself and several of my prophetic friends were told back in the mid-80s that the Lord was going to pour out “the wine of His Spirit” in 1994 and 1995. I am convinced that what is now happening is what we prophesied. However, as widespread as this is becoming, it is still a very small beginning to what I was shown would ultimately unfold. What is to follow after will have much more substance and depth, but this phase is important. Let us enjoy it while we can, but be ready to move to the next phase when the time comes.
This article is from: The Morning Star Magazine, Vol. 5, No. 2.
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